Every time I reach my hands into the kitchen drawer with the cooking utensils, it seems like I am pulling out the wrong item. I want the metal tongs but pull out a metal spoon because I focus only on grabbing something metal. I want a heavy duty plastic spoon but instead retrieve the heavy duty plastic spatula. Often we quickly reach for the item, see something that closely resembles what we want, and we make the grab not realizing until it is too late that our eyes have played tricks on us.
This happens in life all of the time, but sometimes it occurs in areas that are more detrimental than simply selecting cooking utensils while preparing a meal. We see something that isn’t the Truth, but it appears to sound like the truth so we support it. Sometimes we find ourselves out in the world of social media and there’s a photo shared with some description. Everything looks to be true. We start commenting on the injustice we see in the photo or we share the photo with others, helping to assist in the lie, not realizing that it is in fact a lie. Some photos are photo shopped or taken out of context, but we have already shared them with our co-workers, family and friends. They have shared the same photos and stories because they trust you. Later it is found that the photos were doctored, the story isn’t even true, and the Truth itself is in question. You went from trying to be a compassionate person showing the injustice or bad situation, only to finding yourself in a bad situation. Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that there is both life and death in our words.
God calls us to be watchful of our steps and of our words. We are to be careful with the words we speak so that we do not tread on the ground of slandering others. Instead we are to be encouraging, speaking love, and being a light for the Truth. It is so easy to get caught up in sharing something as simple as a photo. It doesn’t seem so dangerous, but still there are dangers. If we expect people to believe the Truth when we present it, we want to guarantee that we are not sharing lies with others—we want to protect our moral authority.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29 [ESV]
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1 [ESV]
We often take things back. We can return a shirt that is the wrong size to the store where we made the purchase. We can take back library books so that we can make new choices. We are able to return so many things, and we are able to make changes to items as well if we do not like them. If we are not happy with something we wrote, we can edit and revise it instead of tearing up a piece of paper and writing it again. We can add more seasoning to our meals to make them change their taste. One thing we cannot take back or change is our spoken words. As they flow from our mouth or off of our fingertips while we are engaging online, they are gone. We may be able to delete comments we make online; however, people saw them and words are powerful. This is why Proverbs 21:23 says, “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (ESV). It is so easy for us to get into trouble.
There are times when we want so badly to shout back, to get in an argument to plead our case. We sometimes engage in discussions with people to stand up for what we believe in, to defend what we believe in and who we care for, to protect ourselves and others, and there are even times when we want to show someone that we are right and they are wrong. The Bible says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts” (Prov. 12:18a ESV) and “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21 ESV).
It is important to be mindful of our words. When we say something, it says something about us. Matthew 15 says that “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” (v. 18 ESV). When we speak or write, it is how we express ourselves. What people hear– the words, along with the tone, body language, and facial expressions — will be how they form many opinions about you. The written words can be worse, for they many times do not go away. That mean, unpleasant letter you wrote a former friend may still be out there. Those comments you left online may still be viewed. These words do not simply hurt the person they are directed at, but they hurt you even more.
We are to love one another like Jesus loves us. We are to build each other up and support each other through life’s journey. We are to be a comfort and a blessing to others. In accomplishing these tasks, it is most important that we watch our mouths. Instead of taking the energy to speak negatively, we can use that same energy and speak positive thoughts into our lives and the lives of others. We can be an encouragement and a blessing to so many if we are able to take time to think before we speak– if we take the much harder step to act in grace instead of acting out in emotion. Next time you speak, remember the power of your words and decide if you wish to have a life built around the positives or the negatives. The choice is yours.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
– Ephesians 4:29 [ESV]